The election systems in countries around the world vary considerably, in regards to the way that they are conducted, the types of ballots used, eligibility of voters, and other factors that play a significant role in the outcomes. This essay will describe the electoral systems of India, Brazil, and the Netherlands.
In India, approximately 814 million citizens are eligible to vote, and they cast the selection at one of 930,000 polling stations in the country, which represents a significant increase from the last election in 2009 (BBC). All Indian citizens who are over the age of 18 and are registered to vote may cast ballots. Voting is not compulsory in India. Electronic voting machines are used at every polling station, and the elections are overseen by an Election Commission. on the screens, the candidate names are written in most languages and in order to help voters who are illiterate, every candidate is also designated by a symbol. There are also braille screens so that visually impaired voters can vote as well. Because there are concerns about voter fraud, in order to prevent people from tampering with the machines that tabulate the totals, the units are sealed with wax and which is supplemented by a secure strip from the election commission in addition to a serial number.
Voting machines were first used in India in 1997, and have been the only way to vote since 2004. There is also a voter verified paper audit trail that became adopted in August 2014, in order to meet the demand for election integrity and the ability to audit the results. The country has had problems with allegations of hacking into the machines, which resulted in the paper audit trail becoming mandatory.
Elections are held in India to select 543 seats in the lower house of parliament; the winner is the person who receives at least 272 MPs in order to form a majority government. India does not allow absentee voting in general. In addition, in 2013 the Supreme Court in India decided that citizens have the ability to a negative vote by choosing a “none of the above” option.
In Brazil, approximately 150 million citizens are eligible to vote to select their representatives. The ballot is direct and secret, that is voters choose a specific candidate for each office to be filled, and their choices are private (Brazil). Voting in Brazil is compulsory for citizens who are literate and are between the ages of 18 and 70. This includes people who are living abroad. Voting is not compulsory for Brazilians ages 16 or 17, or over 70 or citizens who are illiterate. Votes which are either void or blank are not counted or considered valid, and they are discarded when the tallies are completed. Brazil uses electronic voting machines and recently suspended the use of paper ballots so that there is no voter-verified paper that can be used to check results. Like many other countries, Brazil has had its share of conspiracy theories when it comes to the integrity of the voting process, hence the wish of many people in the population to have a paper trail.
The country maintains a system called the Electoral Justice System to oversee the balloting and voting. Brazil utilizes two different systems for its elections: the majority and the proportional. These systems are used to define who wins the election and are dependent on the office being elected. For example, executive positions such as the president, governors, and mayors, and Senate races are determined according to the majority system: the candidate that has the most votes wins. The rest of the votes are decided according to the proportional system. When no candidate receives more than 50% of all valid votes, a runoff election is held between the top two contenders.
In the Netherlands, election polling is organized around colonies and contain voting stations usually located in buildings like churches and schools. Voters are involved in two different systems, a call-to-vote card or a voting pass. With the former, voters use this card or their identity card, with the latter, at their nearest voting station the voters can vote at any location in their municipality. The citizens use paper ballots and/or voting machines, depending on where they are voting and if they are living abroad, can register in advance to vote by mail. Starting in 2006, the citizens could also vote over the Internet but two years later, that procedure was stopped because of security and a ban on Internet voting. There was concern about tampering with the machines and altering the results (Teffer).
The balloting is completed by marking the paper ballot with a red pencil or using a voting machine.
Voting in the Netherlands is not compulsory. In order to vote in national elections in the Netherlands, a person must be at least 18 years of age and a Dutch citizen, but in local elections, EU nationals also have the ability to receive a voting card. Also, when a foreign national lives in the Netherlands for over five years, that person is able to vote as well. Voting is based on a proportional representation based on an approved list of candidates. On the ballot, the voter selects the party of his or her choice and also denotes their choice of the candidate from that party.
- BBC. “India Election: Worlds Biggest Voting Explained.” 9 April 2014. BBC.com. Web. 16 May 2019.
- Brazil. “Understanding How Brazilian Elections Work.” 29 August 2018. Brazil.gov. Web. 16 May 2019.
- Teffer, Peter. “A Guide to Dutch Elections: How the System Works.” 15 February 2017. EU Observer. Web. 16 May 2019.